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Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative

As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.
Known for its activist Hindu monks, the Matri Sadan Ashram shot into prominence following the fast unto death by Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand, who is former professor of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, GD Agarwal, following which he died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rishikesh on October 11, 2018. He fasted for 111 days, demanding measures from the Centre to keep the Ganga clean and free-flowing.
Other she signatories of the HVP statement include Goswami Sushil Maharaj, national convenor of the Bhartiya Sarva Dharma Sansad, Thakur Dwarka Mandir, Noida; Mahant Yugal Kishore Shastri of the Ram Janaki Temple, Ayodhya; Swami Sandeepanandagiri of the Gita Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala; members of the US-based diaspora group Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), priests and priestesses based in India and US, and academics.
According to them, Faisal Khan, a Gandhian, “is a member of the Khudai Khidmatgar (Servants of God), a movement started in 1929 by the freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Badshah Khan and Frontier Gandhi, to encourage mutual harmony between Hindus and Muslims. Faisal Khan has been working tirelessly over years for the cause of inter-religion peace and harmony.”
The signatories, said, they are a “group of Hindus and concerned citizens of India with no political affiliations”, and are saddened by the development, as Faisal Khan, accompanied by his colleagues, were praying “for religious amity and harmony at the Nand Baba temple in Mathura.” They added, Faisal Khan “visited Nand Baba temple during their pilgrimage to different places of worship across the country, during which “they humbly prayed to Sri Krishna, who taught that God is the same to all beings – Srimad Bhagavadgita (9:29) samoham sarvabhuteshu.”
“After offering prayers to Sri Krishna in the Nand Baba temple, it was time for Faisal Khan’s namaz. Faisal Khan was going outside for his namaz, but the priest of the Nand Baba temple, in the tradition of world-famous Hinduism, invited him to perform namaz there itself inside the temple premises. We cannot emphasize enough that Faisal Khan performed namaz in the temple only after the Nand Baba temple priest invited him to do so”, the statement said. 
The charges of promoting enmity and defiling a place of worship against Faisal Khan are wholly misplaced. Namaz is merely an expression of devotion to one and the same Creator
“Hence”, the statement said, “The charges of promoting enmity and defiling a place of worship against Faisal Khan are wholly misplaced. This is so, because our Upanishads teach us ‘Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti’, that Truth is One, but the wise perceive it differently, and thereby namaz is merely an expression of devotion to one and the same Creator.”
The statement continued, “We also learn that following Faisal Khan’s namaz at Nand Baba temple, some Hindu men reportedly recited Hanuman chalisa at a mosque, with the permission of the Muslim cleric of the mosque, and that they were also arrested by Police on charges similar to those against Faisal Khan and his fellows.”
It added, “Thus, while we emphasize that Faisal Khan’s arrest was misplaced and we earnestly call upon the government to release him and the other Khudai Khidmatgar members from custody, we have no hesitation in equally earnestly requesting government to also release from custody, the Hindu men who were arrested for reciting Hindu scriptures at a mosque.”
Meanwhile, HfHR, even as greeting its well-wishers for “a happy, healthy and peaceful Deepavali/Diwali”, said, as t he “most important celebration for most Hindus, we believe that the best way to observe this holy day is to reflect on how we can each do our part to shine the light of goodness, peace, generosity and justice throughout the world.”
To commemorate the special day, it organized a #DalitLivesMatter webinar on the Diwali day of Diwali, because, it said, “We feel it is incumbent on Hindus to prioritize the effort to do away with caste entirely, and raise our voice against caste atrocities.” Among those who participated included Dalit rights activist Martin Macwan, Vedantic scholar and Professor of Religion Dr Anantanand Rambachan, based in Minnesota, USA, and Father Anand, an interfaith peace activist based in Varanasi, India.

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